BY ASHA MAHADEVAN
BACKGROUND: Roger Gendron was born and raised in Hamilton Beach. He continues to live there with his wife Holly and two sons — Christopher, 20, and Matthew, 16. He likes living in Hamilton Beach because he feels it is like a small town in a big city, where everybody knows everybody else and they watch out for each other. Gendron, 52, is a Local 3 electrician and shop steward at the Resorts World Casino.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Gendron was a member of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association for five years before he became president in February 2012. In the early days of his presidency, he dealt with issues such as poor street conditions, broken sidewalks and people hanging out at street corners, which were “easily rectified.”
The dynamics of his presidency changed dramatically when Hurricane Sandy hit the neighborhood that October. The association members, and the community as a whole, banded together to help each other out. The effects of the devastation are felt even today. Gendron spends most of his time serving as a liaison between his community and the city’s elected officials and agencies. The association has helped get a playground repaired at Hamilton Beach Park and a boardwalk reconstructed. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, new residents have moved into the neighborhood and the association tries to make them feel welcome in the community by inviting them to meetings and circulating a newsletter.
GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “There is no single achievement, but I have been able to become the voice of Hamilton Beach,” said Gendron. “Earlier, we were the forgotten stepchild of Howard Beach. One of the things I had promised was that Hamilton Beach will get recognition as a separate entity. We are there, in a way. Some good has come out of Sandy.”
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “My biggest challenge has been dealing with the bureaucracy of New York City,” said Gendron. “If you call one person about an issue to get an answer, they’ll promise to get back. One week later when you haven’t heard from them and call them again, they’ll say, ‘Oh, that person is on vacation.’ It is frustrating. We are blessed to have strong allies in our elected officials and all of them work well together and with us.”
INSPIRATION: “There is no one person. I’ve always found myself to be a helpful person, I’ll help anybody with anything. That’s the way I was raised. My work in this position helps more than one person, it helps the neighborhood. My mom would be proud of me.”